BUU44570 Operations Strategy & Improvement

(5 ECTS) 


John Byrne

Office Hours: By appointment (to agree a mutually suitable time) 


BUU22560 - Introduction to Operations Management (or equivalent)

Module Description:

This module is concerned with the process of creating, delivering and improving products and services. It aims to develop students in applying the core theories, concepts, models, tools and techniques associated with operations strategy and improvement.

The module will consider the key issues involved in managing operations in the modern world, with pertinent theory, and practical approaches for managing the improvement of the organisation. It will demonstrate operations management's strategic importance to organisations, especially in a digitalised world. The module provides insights into contemporary operations management in both manufacturing and service contexts, as well as providing experience through specially-invited cameo speakers from the business world.

Operations Strategy (OS) is defined in terms of the total pattern of decisions that shape the long-term capabilities of the operation and their contribution to overall strategy. OS achieves these outcomes through the on-going reconciliation of market requirements and operations resources so as to achieve a sustainable fit between the two while managing the risks of misalignment. OS is different to Operations Management in terms of time scale, level of analysis, level of aggregation and level of abstraction. This module focuses on OS, with practical applications of strategic improvement techniques.

Learning and Teaching Approach:

The learning and teaching approach is based on real examples and case illustrations which assist students in acquiring deeper practical subject knowledge. Combined with readings and cameo video examples, these exercises provide a basis for the analysis of operations strategy practice in differing industries.

Students will develop an appreciation of how to use practical improvement approaches and “tools” in their future careers, in areas such as designing systems, streamlining operations, introducing new products, achieving service excellence, and increasing capacity in operations.

These act as a key enabler of productivity and innovation in organisations.

Learning Outcomes:

Having completed this module, the student should be able to:

  1. To identify and to understand the work of manufacturing, service and technology firms from a strategic operations perspective
  2. To conduct relevant analyses of operational and managerial situations
  3. To apply key concepts in the field of operations strategy such as process development, quality improvement, innovation – particularly new product / service development
  4. To apply radical improvement techniques
  5. To apply incremental and continuous improvement techniques
  6. To apply project management techniques to product, service and process development planning
  7. To work effectively in a team on improving operations performance

Textbook and Required Readings:

The module draws from case studies and a core text:

Core text"Operations and Process Management Principles & Practice for Strategic Impact” by Nigel Slack and Alistair Brandon-Jones (5th Edition) published by Pearson (Harlow, UK) in 2018.
The core textbook may be purchased in Hodges Figgis, Dawson Street, Dublin. The remainder of this Module Outline will refer to this textbook as "Text".

Note that no single text covers this suite of topics, hence the core text is suggested but not essential. A full suite of relevant written and video materials will be provided.

The module outline refers occasionally to a supplementary text which you may consult:

  • Strategic Cost Reduction by Dermot Duff and Tim McCormick, published by CAI House, Pearse St., Dublin 2, 2011. 2nd Edition.
    The module draws occasionally from this book, and the relevant sections will be made available to students.

    Occasional reference will be also be made to another supplemental text:

  • Managing Professionals by Dermot Duff, published by CAI House, 2014


Formative assessment will take place through feedback on a submitted group assignment and through a comprehensive end-of-module examination. Summative assessment will be conducted by means of 30% weighting on the submitted group assignment and 70% weighting on the end of module examination Students must pass all elements of the assessment to complete the module satisfactorily.

A student’s grade for this module will be determined by performance in the group assignment and in the comprehensive end-of-module assignment:

1. Group assignment (20% - group grade):

  • Working in Groups, students will prepare a group report on an agreed case as the group assignment. In preparing the report, students are advised to address the questions posed.
  • The group assignment must be submitted through BlackBoard and must be 2000 words (excluding references and appendices) +/- 15%.
  • The report should be double-spaced, 12 point font. Additionally, the report may include tables, charts or graphs as appendices.
  • Details of the group assignment and due date will be provided by early October. 

2. End-of-module assignment (70% - individual grade):

  • The end-of-module assignment will be based on of a previously unseen case study and a question paper. The assignment will test student understanding of an operations situation and the application of appropriate analytical skills. This is scheduled provisionally for the week beginning January 11, 2022 and will be conducted remotely, with a two-day window in which to complete the assignment (to facilitate different students in different time zones and remote study). All of the above are subject to College and Government health advice and may change.

3. Learning Log (10% - individual grade): 

  • This should identify the student’s key learnings, particularly indicating how the student will apply the teachings of the module to their individual circumstances and current or future work environment. The Learning Log must be submitted through BlackBoard and must be 1000 words (excluding references and appendices) +/- 10%
  • Students who fail the module will sit a supplemental exam which will count for 100% of the grade. 

Supplemental Assessments:

  • Team Assignment Supplemental. In the event of a supplemental assignment being necessary, the assignment set will be similar, at a later date, assuming that there are more two students or more in that situation: these will be formed into groups by the Module Leader (Dermot Duff). Where there is only one student, the assignment will again be similar but will be reduced in scale accordingly.
  • Individual Assignment Supplemental. In the event of a supplemental assignment being necessary, the assignment set will be similar, but on a different case or situation, at a later date.